From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 8): Army calls on Bukidnon IPs to name erring soldiers
The Philippine Army has urged Bukidnon residents--especially the Indigenous Peoples (IPs)--to identify soldiers alleged to have committed human rights violations so it could act based on verified complaints, a military official said.
First Lt. Tere Ingente, spokesperson for the Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID), urged victims of abuses allegedly perpetrated by soldiers to file a formal complaint so that proper action can be taken against any erring personnel.
Penalties for human rights violations, Ingente said, range from demotion to removal from service.
Ingente said the 4ID “will not hesitate” to demote or discharge any soldier who has been found to have violated any law.
“The order of [4ID commander] Maj. Gen. Ronald Villanueva is very clear: He doesn’t want rotten soldiers within the rank,” Ingente said in an interview Wednesday (March 7).
However, the 4ID spokesperson pointed out that the Army cannot investigate and prosecute a soldier for any misdeed if the complainant cannot provide them with names.
On Tuesday, members of a tribal community in Bukidnon lodged a complaint against some soldiers who have allegedly harassed them before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR-10) based in this city.
According to the complaint filed by a member of the Buffalo-Tamaraw-Limus (BTL)with the CHR-10, soldiers from the Army’s 8th and 88th infantry battalions were responsible for several harassments in their village in Musuan, Maramag town, Bukidnon, last month.
BTL alleged that soldiers coerced them and even accused them of being New People’s Army (NPA) supporters.
A BTL member, Ronilo Menente, told reporters that the soldiers were asking for the names and whereabouts of their leaders.
Ireneo Udarbe, regional chairperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, said some tribe members are being forced to “surrender” after being accused of being NPA combatants.
Responding to the allegations, Ingente said the 4ID’s human rights desk and the Civil Military Operations (CMO) office is open to any civilian who wants to file a complaint against any serviceman.
The complaint, she said, would then be forwarded to the concerned unit where that soldier belongs for investigation and proper action.
She assured that the Army is serious in going after erring soldiers in that if the 4ID leadership is not satisfied with the investigation, the division commander can send an investigator to make further verification.